Suicide Should not be on the News

Don’t get me wrong, the national epidemic that is suicide is terrible, and we definitely should raise awareness for it. Having said that, however, I also believe that broadcasting suicides has a dangerous, negative effect that we tend to overlook; reporting suicides on news teaches people that suicide is an option.

After a tragic event of suicide happens, the news is quick to report it. They claim that they are raising awareness, but what actions are they taking to “raise awareness”? After searching through countless news articles, I’ve found that one of the only forms of action they tend to take is to mention the suicide hotline numbers. Clearly, however, mentioning suicide hotline numbers isn’t going to make the difference between a person committing suicide or not. We need to ask ourselves a hard question – does the media truly care about raising suicide awareness, or does it just sensationalize and glorify the phenonenon in order to gain more profit?

As we all know, some people unfortunately experience hard times, to the point that they don’t want to live anymore. When someone is in such a state, knowing through countless news reports that committing suicide is commonplace may make it easier for people, especially teenagers, to rationalize commiting the action themselves.

An article by the Axios states that suicide rates have increased by a whopping 56% between 2007 and 2017. During this same time period, the media began to broadcast suicides across the nation. This relationship is not just a coincidence; an article by U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine states that only 6% of news articles that discuss suicide provide prevention sources and only a minuscule 1% of news articles provide warning signs and risk factors, while an enormous 56% of articles detail the suicide method. These facts confirm my earlier supposition that very few articles actually raise awareness for suicide. Additionally, the massive amount of news companies who publish detailed articles on the suicide method used no doubt contribute to teaching people ways to commit suicide. Comparing all the negative effects to the close to zero positive effects begs the question – should it even be allowed to talk about suicide on the news?

So should we just ignore suicide? Of course, I don’t believe that’s the case. There are much better ways to talk about suicide than to share and carelessly broadcast to possibly the wrong people. We need to look into the root of why people commit suicide. Bullying, human trafficking, family abuse, drug abuse or untreated mental illnesses are among the most common causes of suicide. The news should instead teach people about these causes and how they can be dealt with if you are in one of these harsh predicaments. If news companies are just going to write and talk about suicide as if they are reporting a short story or a movie review, however, there reasonable doubt that they should be permitted to do so.

-Daniel Li ’22

Comments
2 Responses to “Suicide Should not be on the News”
  1. Sasha Davis says:

    What are your thoughts on academic institutions who experience a suicide, or multiple in one semester, and have to decide whether or not to communicate any information about the suicide or mention that it happened at all? Do these tight-knit communities deserve to know when their community members pass?

    Like

    • Daniel Li says:

      I believe that it’s all in the way that the message is conveyed. If the school knows how to undergo preventative measures so that students would be less inclined from such behaviors, then it is certainly necessary to communicate this to raise awareness. However, if the school really doesn’t know how to deal with this, it’s better not to make announcements, although I don’t think they should necessarily hide the fact. Without proper measures, it could develop into the problem I stated above. It also could damage the mood for the community, and if another happens it could feel like a norm to members of the community which we definitely wouldn’t want. Either way, we must also put in consideration of the family of the victim, whether they’d prefer discretion.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s